A Basic Guide to Meridians.

Following on from one of my previous posts talking about Acupuncture I wanted to share with you a little bit about Meridians and Meridian points as these are what Acupuncturists work with and talk about.

Qi-and-Meridians

Meridians

The Chinese discovered the meridian system approximately 3000 years ago. Meridians are an energy force that can be felt but not seen. They can be described as channels of energy, or pathways through which energy moves through the body. They have been described as containing a free-flowing, colourless, non-cellular liquid that may be partly actuated by the heart.

These meridians have been measured and mapped using modern technological methods, electronically, thematically and radioactively. With practice, they can also be felt. There are specific acupuncture points along the meridians, upon which the practices of acupuncture,acupressure and reflexology are founded. In all these techniques, pressure is applied to specific points to clear blockages from the energy channels. These points are electromagnetic in character and consist of small, oval cells called Bonham corpuscles, which surround the capillaries in the skin, the blood vessels, and the organs throughout the body. There are some 500 points that are most frequently used by acupuncturists and therapists practising acupressure and reflexology; each point is worked upon in a definite sequence depending on the action desired.

Meridians are named by the life function with which they are associated. In most cases this name is similar to the name of a body organ with which we are familiar, for example, the liver meridian and the stomach meridian. Chinese physicians can detect imbalances in meridians by feeling the pulses, but this is a sensitive touch and it can take 10 to 20 years to develop proficiency with it.

Meridians are classified yin or yang on the basis of the direction in which they flow on the surface of the body. Meridians interconnect deep within the torso, but therapists work with the part that is on the surface and is accessible to touch techniques. Yang energy flows from the sun, and yang meridians run from the fingers to the face or from the face to the feet. Yin energy from the earth flows from the feet to the torso, and from the torso along the inside of the arms to the fingertips.

Since the meridian flow is actually one continuous unbroken flow, the energy flows in one definite direction, and from one meridian to another in a well-determined order. Since there is no beginning or end to this flow, the order of the meridians can be represented as a wheel. A blockage in any of the meridians will have a knock-on effect on all the other meridians.

When this energy flow in unrestricted, the body harmonises the flow to optimise body functioning. Sometimes, however, the life we lead and the abuses we heap upon our bodies cause stress, and sometimes the stress is so intense or so constant that, in effect, it overloads the circuit, and a blockage occurs this has an effect on all the other meridians.

The six main Meridians  are those that actually penetrate major body organs

  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Stomach
  • Gall Bladder
  • Bladder
  • Kidney

The other six meridians are situated in the arms and do not actually penetrate specific organs 

  • Lung
  • Large Intestine
  • Pericardium / Circulation
  • Triple  Warmer / Endocrine
  • Small intestine
  • Heart

These 12 meridians can be subdivided into six main meridians that actually penetrate the major body organs and six other meridians that are situated in the arms and do not actually penetrate specific organs.

Closer study of the meridians reveals that the six main meridians are found in the feet, specifically the toes. Thus, massaging the feet is, in actual fact, stimulating and clearing congestion in the meridians. When congestion is cleared, energy is able to flow freely and the body is able to achieve a state of balance.

Rachel x

A Guide to Acupuncture.

Acupuncure is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

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How acupuncture works

Western medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture following a medical diagnosis. It involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body.

This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It’s likely that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.

A course of acupuncture usually creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is used.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi doesn’t flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

Uses of acupuncture

Acupuncture practitioners – sometimes called acupuncturists – use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions. However, the use of acupuncture isn’t always based on rigorous scientific evidence.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines for the use of treatments and care of patients.

Currently, NICE only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for:

  • chronic tension-type headaches
  • migraines

Acupuncture is also often used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:

  • chronic pain, such as neck pain
  • joint pain, such as Arthritis.
  • dental pain
  • postoperative pain

Where is Acupuncture treatment available?

Acupuncture is sometimes available on the NHS, most often from GPs or physiotherapists, although access is limited.

Most acupuncture patients pay for private treatment. The cost of acupuncture varies widely between practitioners. Initial sessions usually cost £40-70, and further sessions £25-60.

If you’re being treated by an acupuncture practitioner for a health condition or are considering having acupuncture, it’s advisable to discuss this with your GP.

How acupuncture is performed

An initial acupuncture session usually lasts 20-40 minutes and involves an assessment of your general health, medical history and a physical examination, followed by insertion of the acupuncture needles.

Courses of treatment often involve up to 10 separate sessions, but this can vary.

Insertion of the needles

The needles are inserted into specific places on the body, which practitioners call acupuncture points.

During the session, you’ll usually be asked to sit or lie down. You may also be asked to remove some clothes so the practitioner can access certain parts of your body.

The needles used are fine and are usually a few centimetres long. They should be single-use, pre-sterilised needles that are disposed of immediately after use.

Acupuncture practitioners choose specific points to place the needles based on your condition. Up to 12 points may be used during a typical session, sometimes more depending on the number of symptoms you have.

The needles may be inserted just under the skin, or deeper so they reach muscle tissue. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for a length of time lasting from a few minutes up to around 30 minutes.

You may feel a tingling or a dull ache when the needles are inserted but shouldn’t experience any significant pain. If you do, let your practitioner know straight away.

In some cases, your practitioner may rotate the needles or stimulate them with a mild electric current (known as electroacupuncture).

Acupuncture safety and regulation

There’s no statutory regulation of acupuncture in England, but many non-medical acupuncture practitioners are required to register with their local authority.

If you choose to have acupuncture, make sure your acupuncture practitioner is either a regulated healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse of physiotherapist or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.

The British Acupuncture Council holds a register of practitioners that has been vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority. If you decide to have traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, you can visit this website to find a qualified acupuncturist near you.

When it’s carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally very safe. Some people experience mild, short-lived side effects such as:

  • pain where the needles puncture the skin
  • bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin
  • drowsiness
  • feeling sick
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • worsening of pre-existing symptoms

If you have a bleeding disorder, such as haemophilia, or are taking anticoagulants, talk to your GP before you have acupuncture.

It’s generally safe to have acupuncture when you’re pregnant. However, let your acupuncture practitioner know if you’re pregnant because certain acupuncture points can’t be used safely during pregnancy.

Rachel x